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Hurt Back? NYPTA Member Adrian Miranda Explains how Physical Therapy Can Help

Thursday, April 16, 2015   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Carla Stephan
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Are you part of the 52 percent?

According to the American Nurse Association, 52 percent of nurses report experiencing chronic back pain. Unfortunately, 12 percent of nurses report they are leaving the profession due to back problems, further exacerbating the nursing shortage and short staffing issues. Making the matter worse, 38 percent of nurses reported taking time off due to back and musculoskeletal injuries.

Since back problems in nurses are so prevalent, you may wonder what the options are for treatment. Are you going to need back surgery? How effective are chiropractors? Can physical therapy really help? To answer these questions, experts weighed in with their opinions on how they treat back injuries, how they can help you, and how you can use their skills to help you get back on your feet again..

Physical Therapy

“Physical therapy is the best way to treat back pain,” stated Dr. Adrian Miranda by phone interview. Adrian Miranda, PT, DPT, OCS is a physical therapist, Orthopedic Certified Specialist, Director of Clinical Residency Education TOURO College, Doctoral Candidate at Texas Tech University, and host of Move Well TV, available on Roku, YouTube, and his website, Managed Dedicated Server Hosting & Managed VPS Hosting by 

The causes of back pain in nurses are multifactorial. “Nurses are on their feet all day long. The spine is an accordion and standing squeezes all the fluid out of it. The discs get compressed. The facets joints are affected, and supporting muscles get shortened,” explains Dr. Miranda

Back pain can actually be caused by several issues in the mechanics of the lower body. Dr. Miranda states, “Weak core muscles are a chronic problem we see in lumbar back pain. We also see weak ankles and gluteal muscles. These other muscles share responsibility and help protect the spine. If the supportive muscles are weakened, the muscles available will be used, such as spinal muscles.”.

He recommends some ways to combat this situation. “First, get into a horizontal position whenever you get the moment. Second, perform a cobra stretch whenever you can.” This stretch comprises laying flat on your stomach and resting your body on your elbows. As you become more flexible, you can move to your hands and give the lower back a full stretch.

You can perform a few other stretches, as well. You can carefully bend backward as much as is comfortable and then rock forward as much as you can. In addition, side to side bending, when not overdone, can help stretch the lumbar muscles, as well.

Dr. Miranda has seen many nursing patients, and this is his experience: “Usually, something else is causing the lower back to be painful. The other muscles are not pulling their weight, and the lumbar spine is often the victim of weaken muscles elsewhere in the lower body.”

Physical therapy is often considered conservative treatment for back problems, but Dr. Miranda thinks it should be given more time. “Spinal fusions and conservative measures do not show significant difference after five years. I feel spinal surgery should only be used when a tumor or fracture is present. When the patient can’t move their leg or peripheral neuropathy is involved, surgery may be called for. Chronic back pain can almost always be treated with conservative measures.”

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